By Martin Crutsinger, AP Economics Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump said Friday that he has held four meetings to discuss who should lead the Federal Reserve starting early next year and expects to decide within two or three weeks.
Trump made the disclosure in comments to reporters on the White House lawn. He did not name the candidates he has met with. But a White House official said the president and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had met Thursday with Kevin Warsh, a former Fed board member.
Another report said Trump had also met with Jerome Powell, the only Republican on the Fed board.
The White House official who discussed Trump’s meeting with Warsh spoke on condition of anonymity to talk about a private White House meeting. The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that Trump and Mnuchin have also met with Powell.
Trump has said previously that he is considering re-nominating Chair Janet Yellen when her term ends in February. But he has said he is also looking at other candidates including Gary Cohn, the head of Trump’s National Economic Council.
Warsh, who served on the board from 2006 to 2011, was a key adviser to Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke during the 2008 financial crisis. He is married to Jane Lauder, granddaughter of cosmetics giant Estee Lauder. Her father, Ronald Lauder is a longtime Trump friend.
Warsh was 35 when he was nominated by President George W. Bush to serve on the board in January 2010. He is now a distinguished visiting fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institute and a lecturer at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Trump told reporters earlier this month that he liked and respected Yellen but had not yet decided on the Fed job. Trump had been critical during the presidential campaign of Yellen’s performance but has made only favorable comments about her since the election.
In an interview this summer, Trump mentioned Cohn as another candidate for the Fed job. But Cohn’s prospects appeared to dim after he was publicly critical in August of Trump’s response to the protest violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Cohn and Mnuchin have taken the lead in crafting the administration’s tax plan, which was unveiled Wednesday.
Yellen, asked last week whether she had met with Trump recently, said she had not done so since a brief discussion the two had after Trump took office. Yellen has repeatedly said she plans to serve out her current term but has declined to say whether she would accept another four-year term if asked to so do by Trump.
It is possible that Trump’s four meetings were with Yellen, Cohn, Warsh and Powell, though Trump did not provide names.
One other person who has been mentioned for the top Fed job is John Taylor, a Stanford University economist and a favorite of conservatives for his support for a rules-based approach to setting interest-rate policies.
There are three vacancies on the Fed board, and there will soon be a fourth. Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer plans to step down in October. So far, Trump has moved to fill only one of the vacancies, nominating Randal Quarles to the board to be vice chairman for bank supervision. His nomination is pending before the Senate.
Associated Press writer Darlene Superville contributed to this report. •